West linebacker Millender to visit Northwestern on Sunday; Illinois remains in picture

News-DemocratJune 15, 2013 

— Belleville West senior linebacker Tori Millender is in no hurry to find his college football home.

But that may change Sunday after he participates in the Chicagoland Showcase at Northwestern University in Evanston.

Millender is targeting Northwestern and its strong academic reputation, and if the Wildcats become the fourth Division I program to offer Millender a scholarship, the temptation to commit will be strong for the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder.

"I know I'll take some time," said Millender, who plans to major in business finance. "(But) the degree coming out of there, that's elite."

Millender, who recorded 98 tackles and five sacks as a junior at West, said if he performs to the level of his capability Sunday, the Wildcats have indicated they will make a commitment to him.

"It's all up to me, whether I perform or not, showcase my skills and show them what they need to see out of me," Millender said. "If I do that, I get the offer. I think it will happen like that. That's what they told me. It's all up to me.

"If it happens like that and that's where I feel comfortable, I might shoot the trigger. But not that day. I'll definitely take some time to think about it."

Millender, who has shed about 20 pounds since last season, said Northwestern wants him to be able to drop into pass coverage. To do that, being lighter on his feet was a necessity.

"They want me to play outside linebacker. That's what they're recruiting me as," he said. "They want to see me in space. They want to have me go against a couple of slot guys, some backs out of the backfield. Go through some movement drills, see how my hips move, see my footwork."

Millender already has received offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools Purdue, Eastern Michigan and Arkansas State.

Smaller Division I schools in the Football Championship Series also have made offers. Among those are Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois State, South Dakota State, Missouri State and Southeast Missouri State.

"I'm hoping (I get) about 10 more (offers) so I'll have some options," Millender said, adding that many FBS teams "haven't seen what those (FCS) guys have seen yet."

"There's a lot of schools interested right now. There's a lot of schools that want to see my senior film (after the season). And there's a lot of schools that want me to come up to campus so they can evaluate (me)."

On that note, Millender said he will visit Illinois for its one-day showcase June 22. Even though the Illini are rebuilding, Millender is interested.

"Illinois is on the prowl," he said. "That's one I'll have to think about, too, because I've grown up watching the Illini. That's 2 1/2 hours from home. It has great academics also, a great campus. It's a rebuilding program, but to go to your home state team, go help them build something special, that's what I'm thinking about right now."

Millender, a personable young man, said the recruiting process hasn't been overly stressful or tiresome.

"I'm still enjoying it," he said. "The only time it's kind of stressful is when you're taking all those camp visits and it's wearing down your body. But talking to coaches and getting a feel for them, their program, the school and the university, that's cool. That's a good thing."

O'Fallon stars take visits

Another metro-east standout, O'Fallon defensive end Dewayne Hendrix, visited Missouri on Friday.

The 6-5, 220-pound Hendrix had 65 tackles and four sacks for the Panthers as a junior last year. At least two dozen FBS schools are interested in Hendrix, making him perhaps the most heavily recruited metro-east player.

Three other O'Fallon players, defensive lineman Kory Poelker, wideout Tae'Mon Franklin and defensive back Micquell Cotton, visited Iowa State on Friday.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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